JUBA – A delegation of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan on Friday expressed concern over rise in conflict-related sexual violence in the country.
The delegation which is led by Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, raised this concern as they conclude their tenth visit to the country on Friday.
“The details of the report are harrowing to read, yet we see it is as important to stay true to the survivors’ accounts, and to play our role in conveying these onward to their fellow South Sudanese, the Government of South Sudan as well as the international community,” said Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the Commission in a statement extended to Sudans Post.
In March 2022, Geneva published a report that details the widespread and systematic character of sexual violence, drawing on several years of interviews with survivors, witnesses, and their families, conducted in South Sudan and also in refugee settings.
Their testimonies relay the harrowing experiences of women and girl survivors, illustrating the lasting impacts on their lives and on the social fabric of South Sudanese communities.
A shorter and more accessible version has also been developed and translated for dissemination in the country.
“We felt it was vital to visit South Sudan and to share our findings and recommendations on conflict-related sexual violence in the country. We are grateful to have been able to visit and engage with key stakeholders,” said Sooka.
The report finds that all armed groups have been involved in sexual violence and that despite the signing of action plans to address it, and some nascent justice efforts, the State’s overall response has so far not nearly matched the scale and severity of the crisis.
“We reiterate our call on the Government to publicly commit to a ‘zero tolerance policy to sexual violence, and to immediately signal genuine intentions by standing down and even prosecuting senior officials known to be perpetrators of sexual violence,” said Commissioner Andrew Clapham.
The experts met with Government officials, representatives of civil society, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and the UN system as well as members of the diplomatic community.
“While the focus of our discussions this week has been on crimes taking place in relation to the country’s conflicts, this dire situation is set against a backdrop of broader patterns of impunity for serious crimes in South Sudan, particularly against women and girls who continue to carry a low status in society,” said Barney Afako.
“Critical nation-building opportunities, particularly the long-awaited process to develop a national constitution, must be fully inclusive and participatory so as to establish a lasting framework to address drivers of conflict and the dehumanization of the country’s women and girls,” he added.
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